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Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Demon Seed" (1977) - Best Of The Big Lots Bargain Bin Busts A Nut

Demon Seed (1977) poster image
Demon Seed (1977) - Best Of The Big Lots Bargain Bin #2
     Most home electronics possess a proprietary ability to communicate with other pieces manufactured by the same brand.  That means my Blu-ray player, my LED, and my home theater receiver could theoretically be having a conversation amongst themselves without my knowing it.  They could be plotting against me even as I'm typing this.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they are.  I don't think they're planning on raping me to plant the seed of some unholy union between man and machine, but don't be surprised if you come to my place and see a bunch of graying, curmudgeonly little MiniDiscs crawling around.  Technology will fuck you.

Proteus IV's "brain" in Demon Seed (1977)
AI super-computer, circa 1977.  Note how tiny it is . . .
     Demon Seed (1977) makes that idea literal, and the results are . . . fascinating?  Odd?  Silly?  The movie's narrative conceit is simple:  Proteus IV, an artificial intelligence program (voiced by Robert "tell the insurance companies you mean business" Vaughn) usurps control of the fully automated home in which Susan Harris (Julie Christie) resides.  After successfully trapping Susan in the house and severing her communications with the outside world, Proteus reveals that he wants to conceive a child through her in order to reside in a form humanity will be unable to reject.  Clearly, Proteus has yet to develop an understanding of humanity.

Proteus on screen in Demon Seed (1977)
Proteus (center) discusses world domination with a lamp (left)
     Of course, there's a bit more to the narrative than just that, but who really cares?  The real fun of Demon Seed, - for me, at least - is how incredibly anachronistic Hollywood's notion of bleeding edge technology has grown since 1977.  The super computer that represents Proteus' brain (pic above) is massive.  Think about your intelligent personal assistant Siri that lives in your iPhone.  Granted, Siri probably doesn't want to procreate, but she keeps your affairs in order better than you do, and she's small enough to live in your pocket.  Proteus himself is represented by oversized desktop terminals that presumably control the colorful and trippy glorified screen saver that represents his thoughts and moods.  Even the specifics of the fully automated Harris household are quaint, with obtrusive HAL 9000 looking video surveillance cameras scattered throughout the home.  At least the house makes mixed drinks.  Mine doesn't.

metal snake thing from Demon Seed (1977)
Metal snake thing - Demon Seed (1977)
Rubik's Snake puzzle
Rubik's Snake (198?)
     The real fun with the tech, though, is seeing just exactly how Proteus perverts the functions of the automated home to his own ends.  As you would probably expect, Proteus is able to mimic Susan's voice.  He's able to control the house's temperature.  He's able to lock doors and shutter windows.  None of that is really surprising, is it?  Well, how about creating and controlling a creepy morphing-metal-snake thingy that kills unwanted household visitors in the basement and looks suspiciously like a Rubik's Snake puzzle?  No?  All right,  I know what you really want to know . . .

Susan's impregnation in Demon Seed (1977)
Sorry, kids.  This is about as graphic as Susan's impregnation gets.
     How exactly does Proteus go about impregnating Susan?  Sure, I'll cop to having the same prurient interest in seeing the lovely Ms. Christie violated by a desktop computer as you do.  Sadly, the specifics are mostly discreet and tasteful.  Mostly.  Demon Seed treats us to a few fleeting moments of side boob combined with the pervy thrill of voyeurism, but that's about all.  Julie Christie is an Oscar winner, for Pete's sake, and Demon Seed isn't as much of an exploitation movie as its title would lead you to believe.  Besides, one need only seek out a copy of Don't Look Now (1973) to check out Ms. Christie's graphic lovemaking - long rumored to be the real thing - if that's what rubs your rod. 

     Demon Seed is still a lot of fun in its own right, though, and it easily ranks as one the best of my Big Lots Bargain Bin excavations.  Dated presentation aside, it effectively preys upon the pervasive fear of technology run amok, and it does so with more class than you might expect.  Demon Seed is recommended - especially if you can track down a copy for only three bucks. 

     In the meantime, remember not to drop the soap in a shower full of technology . . .




Posted by Brandon Early

10 comments:

Carl B said...

Oh, those 1970's. A time when people thought computers would eventually be capable of rape. Little did humanity know it would be banks and insurance companies raping the future society.

This movie and Maximum Overdrive would make a great double feature.

Brandon--maybe we could start pairing movies to make double features?

Anyway... Great read!

Brandon Early said...

Double features sound good to me. I'll be in contact soon about Pre'Ween.

Fake Shemp said...

This movie went to almost top of my list of shame in my browser, and i had it ready to watch when i got in from work tonight, and then suddenly theres a wonderful review up for it by you... mind meld!

Perfect timing and awesomely funny review!

Brandon Early said...

Thanks, FS. I'm glad I finally revisited Best Of The Big Lots Bargain Bin. This Demon Seed post was teased at the end of the first one (about Private Parts) nearly five months ago. Although I was pleased with that first post, it generated no comments and seemingly little interest. The movies from the bin aren't all hard horror, though, so I'm going to try to throw one out every month or so for a little variety. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and you'll have to follow up with your own thoughts here after you've watched it.

initforthekills.com said...

One of the best things about old sci-fi movies is seeing what they thought amazing futuristic technology should look like!

Warden Stokely said...

Hi Brandon
"...treats us to a few fleeting moments of side boob combined with the pervy thrill of voyeurism..." hahaha. I seriously want to call in dead tomorrow and just bond with my laptop. I should have entered the world of horror blogs eons ago, or at least 36 years ago. I have not seen Demon Seed, but I seriously think it was the impetus for Disney's made for tv movie Smart House (1999), by the sound fo it. Cracks me the hell up. Seriously diggin your blog Brandon. I've got a lot to learn, and I learn something new everyday from all you guys. My blog is downright boring compared to you and the vets. I guess I shouldn't expect it to be Phantastic in just a few weeks, but patience has never been one of my virtues. And considering the advances in technology, the fact that we want, can get, and expect everything right this fucking second, doesn't help me. If my laptop would only do what it's told! But it seems to have a mind of it's own! hah! Until next time...Keep those fires stoked, Brandon.
Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely
Warden Stokely Horrorzine

Brandon Early said...

I'm no vet myself, Warden. The Dog Farm hasn't even clocked its first year yet.

I'm impatient, too. After being fortunate enough to welcome baby Gunnar into my life a little over five months ago, I've struggled to make time to keep posting on a semi-regular basis. Even at only three or four posts a month, though, I've been pleased to see my heap of posts grow ever higher.

It feels good to do something at least a little bit constructive with my love of the genre. The kind words of other horror fans here at the Dog Farm make it all worthwhile. Stick with it and you're sure to build something to be proud of.

Shit just got deep in here, huh? lol

BTW, everyone, check out what Warden is building at http://wardenstokelyhorrorzine.blogspot.com/

Grimm said...

I've not seen this one! I've heard about it here and there, but never got around to it yet. Finding it for $3 is a steal!

Great page, I just followed your site. If you wanna chat more horror, swing by my page.

http://grimmreviewz.blogspot.com/

Brandon Early said...

Thanks for stopping by the Dog Farm, Grimm. I just checked out Grimm Reviewz. I see you're one of those prolific bloggers. lol Wish I could manage that. I like the clean, uncluttered look of your site.

I'm always walking a fine line between "having the stuff I want here" and "having way too much clutter". BTW, Grimm Reviewz has been added to "Other Dogs Barking" in the sideboard. We'll file that under "having what I want here" rather than "having too much clutter". lol

Warden Stokely said...

Hey Brandon
Grimm's seriously legit. Hi Grimm!
Warden Stokely
Warden Stokely Horrorzine